Saturday, April 19, 2008

Pastoral symphony*

We three went to Traders Point Creamery this morning. Despite the grey skies, threat of rain, and slight nip in the air, it was just about the perfect morning -- in fact, that maybe why it was the perfect morning.

I know TPC isn't a new discovery, but for our family it was a first. There was some competition for parking spots, which didn't give me very high hopes, but in the end our trip there was just right. We did some initial scoping of the place and didn't bring a lot of cash so there wasn't a big temptation to buy a lot of stuff we wouldn't end up using. We did get some locally-roasted coffee and I bought a small loaf of cherry bread from a mighty precious old farmer... when I asked him which kind of bread was his favorite, he admitted that everything he brought was his favorite. How could I pass him up?

Next time we'll come better financed and prepared to try some of the locally-grown, organically-raised produce. I love the idea of this and am slowly making some steps toward incorporating these concepts into our buying habits. In fact, before I started this post I was Googling to find some sources for canning and freezing our own harvest for next year.

Sara was, of course, instantly in love with the place and spent a fair amount of time trying to catch and hug the chickens -- she wasn't succcessful, but this didn't seem to faze her. There were also a couple of cats roaming the grounds, with which she was instantly smitten. Not exactly "barn cats" and not exactly "house cats," they were freindly enough to be offended when we passed them by without the obligatory pat and possesive enough of the place to keep their eyes on us when we wandered out into the field. It was nice, since everyone else was in the barn at the market and we pretty much had the grounds to ourselves. And the occasional "cock-a-doodle-do" was really the icing on the cake.

It was one of those mornings I always imagine us having, the three of us together enjoying the fresh air and having enough time and space to let Sara have the independence she needs while Rob and I can spend a few minutes talking and walking and not worrying about her. There was an energy in the air, a mix of stormy weather and Saturday-morning anticipation that I find both invigorating and relaxing. We were in the city yet enjoying the pastoral setting, all at the same time. I'm not sure how it gets much better.

I love these accidental realizations of my imagination. They're so rare -- but I wonder how much more frequently they might occur if I just let life unfold rather than spending my time and energy trying to engineer "the ideal." It never works anyway. Good thing I've finally realized that, because it sure makes living a lot easier. It kind of give the concept of "going organic" a whole new meaning.

*The Pastoral Symphony is one of my favorite sections of "The Messiah." It's actually what was played (on a harp no less!) when I walked down the aisle at our wedding. If you're familiar with it, today was sort of a real-life expression of how I internalize the music: a simple melody gently carrying you forward to the next movement. Kind of makes me wonder what life's "next movement" will be.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Rock my world

I can honestly say that I've never been woken up by an earthquake. I'm sure my friends out west are laughing at us right now (much like we do when their interstate traffic comes to a halt after a light dusting of snow), but I'm here to tell you -- it's a little creepy. The bed was shaking, the walls were rumbling, the windows were rattling... my first thought was "what the hell is Rob doing now?!?," but then I realized he was just as confused as I was.
Here's the creepiest part: Riley is currently undergoing a fairly major addition to the hospital and, off and on all this week, we have felt the rhythmic vibrations of jackhammers or excavation or I don't know what. My desk vibrates, my coffee sloshes in it's cup... you get the idea. Just a few minutes ago we had what I assume is an aftershock. To be honest, it's kind of hard to tell the difference between the jackhammering and the earthquaking -- except that Rob just called me to ask how "construction" was going. And I have to say: Being in the basement of a six-floor hosptial during construction AND earthquake activity? Yeah, not so much.
I'm telling you, if our patients start speaking in tongues I'm out of here. Of course, it might be a little difficult to say if they're actually speaking in tongues or just here for therapy... So, scratch the tongues. But if I see swarms of locusts or floods or the dead rising from the grave? Then I'm out of here.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

There's no place like home

My mom used to tell me how she frequenly felt like a second-class citizen when people would ask her what she "did" and she would tell them that she was a house wife. It was the seventies, you know, and she was supposed to be burning her bra and blazing career trails.

Well, whatever. Now it's thirty years later and I've got the career and the new promotion, and really what my soul is thirsty for is the life my mom led. I'm a house wife trapped in the professional world. Crazy, isn't it?

I don't think "house wife" is the right term anymore... I personally think that "home-making" is a much better descriptor, because that is what it's really all about. Now, my mom was no neatnik -- NOT EVEN CLOSE. And she didn't get me up every morning for a hot breakfast, or make sure all my clothes were ironed and laid out the night before. So what did she do? Well, she made our home. She shaped what was important to us (and not), created our traditions, and above all made sure we felt loved. And we did.

Before I get the certain responses that lots of women have careers and a fulfilling home life, let me just say that I understand that it's possible. At least to some degree, it's possible -- but it's really proving to be impossible for me. My attempts and creating the home life I want and the work life I require has left me falling short on every front. And let me tell you, that is a lousy place to be.

Hey, I know I have all sorts of pie-in-the-sky ideas about what being a home-maker would be like. A lot of it is romanticized nonsense but I also know it would really be the best gift I could give to Rob, Sara, and myself. The creativity that I love and that keeps me sane (designing, scrapbooking, stenciling, photography, writing, singing, gardening, cooking, painting -- walls, not canvases!) isn't marketable. I know that there are those whose talent is extraordinary, and mine isn't. And that's really OK with me. But my family would benefit from it, and I could have the joy of shaping our lives and creating our traditions and making sure they feel loved.

That is SO what I want to be about. It's still not popular, it doesn't move us up the socioeconomic totem pole, and some (perhaps reckless) pundits have even suggested that it's "dangerous." Well, whatever! I'm no more interested in burning my bra or blazing career trails than my mother was. In fact, that path seems to lead inevitably to failure for me and my family.

So here's hoping I can be a new kind of trail-blazer, back to where my mother came from. I really can't wait to get there.

Friday, April 11, 2008

So I was sobbing

CJ and Sharon are really doing it: They're tearing down the old lake cottage and building new. We are all really excited and can't wait until it's done. It will be year-round now, and will have lots of room for lots of people. They've been talking about it and planning for it for months now and we're all so looking forward to it. It will be great.

So I was a little surprised to find myself sobbing the other night as I looked through the pictures Sharon sent of the place now that they've cleared everything out for demolition. It's a sad little thing, tired and literally decaying from some 40 years of use. My dad built it -- almost everything, except the block, he did himself. It is small (funny how it never seemed all that small when I was a kid) and we outgrew it forever ago. There was no air conditioner, no washer or dryer, and for the longest time no phone. It smelled "lakey" and was definitely not immune to bugs. In the last few years, to be perfectly honest, it was a lot of work just to be there.

But oh my gosh -- I cried and cried as I looked at those pictures. She wasn't in the photos but I could see Mom standing behind the island in the kitchen, putting out food for whatever crowd happened to be there that day and filling newcomers in on the house rules: she would show you where everything was, but after that you were on your own -- and no wet bathing suits on the sofa! I could see Dad sitting at the picnic table reading the Sunday paper early in the morning before the boats started up and it was so quiet you could hear every squirrel on the roof and every woodpecker in the cove.

They were both so proud of the place and loved sharing it with everybody -- literally, everybody. It didn't matter if they had known you for 5 minutes or 50 years, you were welcome to enjoy everything the lake had to offer. Mom would keep you well fed and supplied with dry towels (and don't forget to hang them up, because she wasn't doing it for you!) and Dad would pull you behind the boat for an hour if that's what it took to get you up on skis. No screaming allowed and kids had to wear life jackets. That was about it. All you were asked to do was have a good time.

I can't tell you how many weeks, or more likely months, I spent down there with Mom. We all but lived there in the summer. I don't remember what all we did, but I remember I hated coming home. We practically had the whole lake to ourselves -- and I had Mom all to myself, too. Some of my best memories of her are from summers at the lake. I'd love to do that with Sara some day, too. (Some day.)

So yes, I was sobbing. I'm sure I will again. Part of me wants to go down there, one more time, just to say goodbye to the place: smell the lakey smell, stand behind the island and look out at the lake like Mom did, sit at the picnic table some quiet early morning like Dad and just listen and remember. But I won't. I don't need to -- I'm doing it right now. Kind of like everything else with Mom and Dad, the blessing and the curse is that I'll never get to see them again, but I meet with them all the time in my memory.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

This time, no promises

Ah, the time has come again to consider my weight dilemma. Or crisis. Crisis is probably more accurate.

This time I'm having an incredibly hard time committing to anything. It's been a lifetime of enthusiastic commitment followed, at some point, by giving up and then gaining it all back (plus a little more for good measure). I really, truly, feel defeated and suspect that defeat is the one thing that is going to guarantee my failure.

Rock, meet hard place.

The thing is that I have more reason than ever to figure it all out. Every day I spend with Sara is confimation that life is SO worth living and living for a long, long time -- every day to the fullest. Cornball as it sounds I believe it. And yet I'm still left with my dilemma, and no amount of cold-hard logic or very real concern for my health seems to take an edge off the defeat.

So this time around I'm not fooling myself, not promising myself that I'm going to knock this off my to-do list like the laundry or paying bills. Chances are I'll never lose all the weight I need to lose -- but right now, I'd be happy with just some. Just something to make life a little easier, my step a little faster, my knees a little stronger, my hope a tiny bit brighter. I'm taking baby steps and the first one is just being aware. You skinnies out there probably never realized that some of us aren't even aware of what we're eating -- or maybe you don't have to be because you were blessed with good genes and a great metabolism. But for some of us it takes a real effort to think about what we're eating, what it's doing to us/for us, and why we're eating it.

And let me tell you, it IS an effort.

That's my goal right now. Being aware. Being present everytime I put something in my mouth and making a conscious decision about why I will - or won't - do it. It's hard. Maybe harder than weighing and measuring and keeping a food diary and coming off sugar. I don't know, because I've never really done it before.

Anyway that's where I am. I don't want you to question me the next time we have lunch together or take a mental inventory of what I'm eating. Really, you don't have to do anything except try to understand.

My quest to be aware has taken me back to my old friend, the Cooking Light website. This is what I made for dinner last night (along with some stuffing & tasty roasted asparagus) and by all accounts it was very very tasty. And for you cooks out there -- also SO fast & easy. No joke. I hope you like it!

Not sure what comes next, but I think awareness is going to keep me busy for awhile. Maybe Rob, Sara & I can make yesterday's afternoon walk a daily event. Not exactly a workout, but certainly better than sitting on my butt watching the Food Network. Ah, the irony...

We'll see. And I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Saturday morning sound bites

The beauty of most Saturdays is that Rob lets me sleep in. Usually that means I'm up at 7:30 or 8:00 (which he doesn't understand as "sleeping in"), but this morning I was up just before nine.

Last night we managed to get a sitter and go out for the evening. Feeling quite proud of ourselves we went to a relatively nice place for dinner (no trays, mascots, or waiters singing "Happy Birthday" in sight) and I ordered myself a Lemondrop. A nice idea in theory, until I woke up this morning at 6:30 with a pounding headache. Four Advil later and I was back in bed.

When I rolled out two and a half hours later the headache was mostly gone, just that whisper to remind you that you best not get cocky cause it could come back any minute. I sat on the edge of the bed to weigh my options: try to sleep it off entirely or push through and hope for the best?

That's when I heard Rob and Sara downstairs. And it went something like this:

S: (clomp clomp clomp clomp clomp)
R: "Sara Hope NO! We do NOT touch knives! (unintelligible mumbling)"
S: (clomp clomp clomp clomp clomp) "A, B C, D, E, F, Geeeeeeeeeeeeee, H, I J, K, na na na na na na na...." (clomp clomp clomp clomp clomp)
R: "Sara Hope NO!! Get away from the stove!"
S: (clomp clomp clomp clomp clomp) "(unintelligible happy sounds)"
R: "Ba-Boom! You're OK."
S: "(indiscriminate whine)" (clomp clomp clomp clomp clomp)
R: "Sara Hope come back here."
S: (clomp clomp clomp clomp clomp)
S: (clomp clomp clomp clomp clomp)
R: "Sara, I have oranges!"
S: (clomp clomp clomp clomp clomp) "Mmmmmmmmmmmm....." (clomp clomp clomp clomp clomp)
R: "Sara come HERE. Mama's sleeping."
S: (clomp clomp clomp clomp clomp) "Mama? I go SEE Mama." (clomp clomp clomp clomp clomp)
R: "No Sara, come BACK here!"

And so it went.

I opted to hang out upstairs for a few minutes to see which direction my headache was going to turn before I jumped into the fray. Rob just brought up some coffee and when I asked him how they were doing he said "Um, OK." That was when Sara started up the stairs to see what she was missing.

God love him, he told her I was still asleep. He's such a nice man.

As for me, I think I'll fish out a couple more Advil, take a nice hot shower & then give him some relief. But I have to say, I've been enjoying the show. Those two.... peas in a pod. How I wound up as the Mama Bear of this crew is a mystery to me.